Monday, August 18, 2014

A Timeline of Lessons (2012)

Re-posted from a closed blog.

(I came across this while looking through a folder. I have left it as is and thought it worth sharing even though I had considered this blog closed. I think it shows an insight into what it is to be raised in an abusive home and can only hope the reader will pause to consider their own situations for what good it might lead to. Non-physical abuse is very insidious - it doesn't leave blatant marks, but it marks just the same. Please guard your own actions from doing that to anyone, yourself included. And if you realize there are parallels in the life of someone you know, please be there to lift, help, support them through, and if possible away from, the nightmare. Just as I always wished someone would do for me.)
When I was youngest, you taught me that no matter how hard I tried to be good, I'd have to try harder than everyone else to even have a  prayer. 
You also taught me that for every thing I did wrong, the value of my soul would shrink and nothing could every make it better. 
You'd never think it, but listening to your hateful words about your brothers and parents taught me that your saying you 'loved' someone meant nothing. 
I learned that there was no point in telling anyone that you were mean because no one would believe me or care because you told me so. 
A little older and a big, yet innocent, mistake later and you taught me that even horrible criminals would think I deserved to die and they would want to kill me if they knew and would kill me if I were older. 
That Christmas you taught me that I was not worth as much as anyone else in the family. 
During these years  you taught me that everything had to be done exactly how you said to do it even if it was harder your way and didn't make sense and didn't even matter how the bathroom sink was  cleaned so long as it got cleaned… 
Then we moved and you were around a lot more. 
And I learned that you got mad at me for daring to sleep when you were mad at me for something else. 
I learned that anything that made you unhappy could be my fault. 
I learned that I could get in trouble for not knowing what you wanted me to do even if you never told me. 
I learned that I would be in worse trouble if someone helped me do something you had secretly planned as punishment. 
I learned that being darn good wasn't good enough - I had to be the best and I had to remember I was  nothing at the same time. 
I learned that if I ever had the audacity to speak like I had a claim on something you promised me, you would take it away so I would know better. 
So I learned not to want or expect anything because it would just be used against me. 
I learned to convince myself that I must be nothing - a slave - for if a slave, then nothing wrong could be done against me since, by definition, a slave has no rights to violate in the first place. 
I learned that you loved the animals more than you loved me, even though you could make them yelp and scream and cry like you couldn't get away with doing to us. 
I learned how to manage full time school, work, caring for a bed-ridden mother, three younger siblings, cleaning the house, shopping, cooking, driving any and all to appointments, and well as maintaining my own spiritual state through church activity, all at the age of twenty. 
I learned all this while I was also expected to somehow be a professional painter with no realistic help and that if I dared get overwhelmed that I would somehow sink even lower than rock bottom in standing. 
I was terrified to learn that all you had to do was tell me 'something' I had done for a low-down, heartless, selfish, cold, dark reason and I would not only believe you, but I would forget what I had really done and why I had done it. 
I learned that my health was of no concern to any of you.  
I learned that you would be furious if I dared talk to anyone about how overwhelmed and stressed I was because that reflected badly on you. 
Therefore I learned, once again, that I didn't matter. 
I learned that if I behaved any way other than you thought proper that I was shaming you, even if it was an emotional outburst related to recent trauma. 
You taught me that Jesus despised me and that turning to God in prayer was slothful on my part. 
You taught me that if something wasn't working then I must not have done my best. Never-mind the fact that no-one is capable of actually doing everything. 
So I guess I learned that if anything was not succeeding then it was my fault. 
In fact, I even learned that life almost got easier if I just accepted fault for everything and anything that anyone was upset about. Because then, if it was my fault, I could fix it and they wouldn't be mad at me anymore. And there would be a reason to my existence. 
I learned that mom had considered divorce up till I was five and often couldn't wait till you went out of town again so that the fragile stability she maintained in your absence could be restored. 
I learned that it was safer to not let anything show on my face since I was always getting in trouble for the thoughts you were telling me I was having. It's a good thing you didn't know as much as you thought you did… 
I learned that even if I managed to do 'better' at just about everything, it was only treading water and to do less than best left me in the red. 
I learned that you would stop at nothing to keep your control. 
I learned that you wanted me so isolated, I would get in trouble for confiding in my own sibling or a teacher/bishop. 
I learned after mom died that you only thought mom was considering divorce for the first year of your marriage and you disregarded the lifelong story where mom had known I was waiting to be born as her desperate attempts to preserve your marriage. 
I learned that I could get in trouble for being so selfish that I was not doing my siblings' chores. 
I learned that you trained the family so well that my siblings knew they could use me as a scapegoat to get out of trouble themselves. 
I learned that you knew you were being unreasonable and you just didn't care. 
I learned that you not only had no care for my physical well-being, you were doubly willing to endanger it to lessen my dignity so you could get a laugh. 
I finally learned that it would never matter how hard I tried, how much I gave, how well I kept all of your arbitrary, multiplying demands  - it would never be enough. 
So I left. 
Since then, I have also learned. 
I learned that you betrayed yourself far more than you may ever realize and would ever admit. 
I learned that you think love means satisfying your expectations and that you've brought your own stupid misery on yourself.  No wonder you never feel loved and I could never do enough because every time a demand gets met, the love expires and the next unmet expectation is the only one that matters. 
I learned that I was not the lazy one - you were. 
I learned that all the things that never occurred to me but that you blamed me for 'thinking' had to have come from your own head. 
I remembered you scoffing at a crying child and mocking her with the words, "What are you going to do, tell the Bishop I'm emotionally abusing you?" Years before I had any clue to what that even meant... 
I learned that you are the selfish and self-centered one. 
I learned that even though you expect everyone you come in contact with to think you're the smartest person they know, you're not nearly as smart as you think you are. 
I realized that you gave into having me because it was you who feared divorce but at some point you must have realized my birth didn't accomplish your intended purpose so the unwanted child became the despised child. 
I realized that for all you complained of how much money you had to spend on me, I saved you far more than you've ever considered and my debt has been more than paid in full. 
I have learned that even if I was born to you and even if our religion believes in forever families, I do not have to stay with you and that does not compromise my immortal standings one bit. You have more than lost your right to me. 
I have even learned some of what you did to mom. But I will leave that to stay between you and God. Fair warning - you can't hide the truth from Him.  
I tell you this because I have been learning all along since I left that you haven't been changing. You are only targeting others. 
I have always thought that you consider yourself too sophisticated to be physically abusive. And as early memory proves - you either think emotional abuse illegitimate or you figure no one is smart enough to recognize what you are doing. Indeed, many are quite naive. But many are not, and tearing apart a person's identity, spirit and mind does greater violence that a simple fist can ever do. 
Ultimately, I have learned that you are pathetic. 

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